Category Archives: Life

Things related to our personal life.

Dev Diary: Tanked – A new way to develop (for me)

What is Tanked?

It’s my new game.  It’s been sort of stealth-released for nearly a month.

The idea was simple:  In just a couple of button presses, you should be able to jump into satisfying online eight-person 3D Quake-ish style combat (with world rankings and text chat) while waiting for a bus on any iOS/Android/webOS device.

If you haven’t played it, you can get an idea from this user-made video.  (hey, is that guy flipping us off?!  Also, you only need to hold down the white circle to move, don’t know why his finger is dragging it way up there.. hrm)

Unconventional development

Usually I write a game, make a youtube video, send press releases and promo codes around the interwebs and cross my fingers.  But with this game I’ve taken a more relaxed and organic approach.

  • Game is free, with a foggy plan of IAP or ads when it makes sense
  • Put out versions early and often without fanfare
  • Not bothered with press or even made any trailers/videos yet, waiting until the game is better and ready to handle it, server-wise
  • Allow live text chat so I can see peoples honest comments and complaints (“how do i move my  tank?” is asked 10+ times a day, this tells me my controls aren’t obvious enough)
  • Development is a fluid iterative process that has me working on whatever I see as the biggest issue of the day or what I’m personally interested in at the time
  • User device type and country is prominent and leads to zany “kill the Canadian!” or “kill the android users first!” type smack talk
  • Game is never “done” but constantly evolving.  Well, if I have time.
  • Not popular and nobody cares?  I’ll take that a sign to dump it and move on

Design decisions

  • Game designed to be  ‘playable’ over crap connections (3g, etc) – at worse, about a 500 ms ping. (This is why I use slow turning/accelerating tanks instead of jumpy-ass Quake guys)
  • Uses only basic GLES 1.X, runs fine on an iPod Touch 1st gen, a Palm Pre, a Nexus 1, iPad, touchpad
  • Multi-player only – either online or local splitscreen play  (4 players on a tablet, 2 on a smaller phone device)
  • Custom server written to run on windows or linux capable of handling hundreds of simultaneous games (currently running on rtsoft.com’s linux VPS)
  • Each device automatically gets one player account that does not require a signup, you can change your name as much as you want but a permanent two letter “id tag” is always appended to your name, mostly so other users can figure out if one annoying guy keeps changing his name, or tell the difference between two people with the same name
  • Swearing is converted to #@%^#@ type stuff
  • No vertical aiming.  Yes, I know it’s a tank but.. circle strafing on a touch-screen is hard enough without throwing that into the mix

It’s fun being big brother

Watching the server like a loving father has given me some big time Bulletin Board Era nostalgia.

It warms the cockles when I see a player answering an earnest noob’s desperate cry of “how do I move?” with a tender hand instead of the standard “sux 2 be u” reply.

And, well, to be honest, it’s Deeply Satisfying™ to ban trouble makers or rename offensive user names to “Sparkles” or “Fluffy”.

Getting weird

Being a single developer with complete freedom is fun.  Would a normal person do this?

  • Added a tavern chat area with a fully functional vegas-style slot machine to gamble career points (It’s just text, but it’s strangely addictive, really!)
  • Re-used a dog (beagle) 3d model from an older game as a strange projectile power-up

Conclusion and the future

In less than a month the online player rankings have grown to 44,614 and is growing by the thousands every day.

It’s been an interesting (and educational) challenge having three platforms smoothly play together despite annoying week-long app submission processes.

Will I keep working on it and add team play and more items and ways to interact?  That’s the general plan but I also have some other work stuff going on so.. hmm.  We’ll see.

For info on the cross platform framework I wrote that this uses check the Proton SDK wiki.

To download the game, click here.  Or better yet, wait for V1.04 to become available first as it improves things quit a bit.  But then again, I say that about every version… developer thing.

Gaming with kids: How to roll dice without dice

Cosmo and I playing Super Battle… but just what is super battle you ask?

The problem

So there you are, destined to walk miles in the hot sun with only your seven year old as a companion. You’d love to play some simple D&D type games with him but getting out dice just isn’t an option.

Possible solution 1: Could use Rock Paper Scissors to decide outcomes. It could work but it makes it difficult to roll a “1 in 15” chance. Besides, you’re holding a two year old and a bag, your arms aren’t free.

Possible solution 2: Could download a dice rolling app on your iPhone. Workable. But the sun makes the screen hard to read and presents problems when the two of you aren’t walking side by side. Also, you don’t have an iPhone.

If only someone would invent a better way…

Where we’re going, we don’t need dice

Enter Voice Rolling.  (Or for your research paper,  APRNGVSAS (Aural Psuedo Random Number Generation Via Simultaneous Action Selection))

According to five minutes of Googling, it appears my son and I have actually INVENTED THIS despite being in the age of the internet.  I thought that was supposed to be impossible!?  Or more likely, it was considered too weird and/or stupid for anyone to ever post about it.  Until now!

I suspect the ancients knew of this hallowed technique but it was somehow lost with Atlantis.  Yeah.

Gopher suggested I call it “Sething”.  Tempting.

Type 1 – Rolling a “hit or miss” with 1-to-anything odds

Ok, first, the most basic version.  Let’s say you are attacking your opponent with knife, and you’ve decided there is a 1 out of 3 chance you will hit.

In unisen, you both yell: One Two Three <the number between 1 and 3 you’ve select>!

If someone is too slow/fast, it’s a redo.  (Same as Rock Paper Scissors)

A match is a “hit”.

If you yelled 2, and he yelled 3, they don’t match and it’s a miss.

If you yelled 1 and he yelled 1, they match and it’s a hit.  So you can deduct the damage from his life or whatever.

Type 2: Rolling an arbitrary number

At times you just need a standard roll, rather than a hit/miss based on odds. In this case, each person shouts 1-N like before, but the results are added together and “modded” by the number.

Example to get a number between 1 and 6:

Player 1: 1-2-3… 3!

Player 2: 1-2-3… 5!

3+5 = 8.

8 is more than 6, the max number, so we remove 6, and it becomes 2 as it “wraps around”.

Final number is 2.

This method might work better if you used (desired number*2) for the initial roll, but then it gets to be too much work to get the final number for kids.

Game 1: Super Battle

Here is an actual rule set for an ultra simple vocal rolling only game for your next hike! (This is the one we’re playing in the video..)

In Super Battle you duel the other player to the death using a combination of weaponry, healing, and even espionage.

Setup: Each player starts with 10 “Life” points.  Their maximum life is 20.

Decide who goes first: Use Rock Paper Scissors to select the first attacker, then alternate turns until a player “dies”.

Each turn a player can choose one of the following strategies to beat his enemy:

  • Punch: 1-2 odds roll, does 1 damage
  • Strong Punch: 1-5 odds roll, does 3 damage
  • Super bomb: 1-10 odds roll, does 6 damage
  • Heal: 1-(any number, we’ll call it N), heals N-1 (you add it to your life variable, capping it at 20)
  • Espionage: 1-12 odds roll, if it hits, your enemy’s “heal machine” is damaged, and he cannot heal for the rest of the game.

Apply damage by removing it from the attacked persons “life” points.

Winning: Game is over when someone’s life reaches zero.  The player remaining standing is the victor.  The loser must then say “He truly is.. the chosen one!” in an old man voice.

Recommended:  Let your kid modify the rules each time you play to keep things interesting.

Game 2: 3X

Well, basically like “6x – The one page role playing system“, but we limit the options to 3x, then we might use some variant of Super Battle to handle fights if we feel like it.

Conclusion

So next time you’re trudging through the forest with a tired kid in tow and lamenting your lack of gaming peripherals… challenge your kid to a Super Battle.

Ludumdare 20 – Who’s in? #LD48

It’s that time again.

Three times a year hundreds of masochistic geeks from around the planet push themselves to the limit by creating the best game they can (individually) in only two days. The winning theme you must base your game around is announced as it begins.

Check out the keynote (done by Sos this year, nice job!)  and get more info at Ludumdare.

As for me…

I don’t think I’m going to be able to devote enough time to make anything this year, but at the very least I’ll be hanging out in irc cheering the brave on as usual.

My unhelpful guide for first-timers is here.

Warm up your compilers, gas up your image editor, and change the tires on your music program because it starts in 23 hours.

The Zerg is strong in this one

Now that Cosmo wields this amulet (no doubt excreted by the Zerg queen herself) his all infestor army tactic is sure to finally actually win a game!  (Yeah, it’s a cheapo Starcraft 2 thing I bought on ebay and strategically hung around the house until he noticed it)

Not to be outdone, here is Eon-kun inventing a delicious soy sauce soup.  Leave him alone for a minute and he always finds a way to make the magic happen.